The InBox: Amantani Island, Peru

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Sustainable Travel, Off the Beaten Track, Lake Titicaca, Peru
Dear Randall,
I hope you don’t mind my contacting you. I saw your blog post about staying on Amantani Island and I wanted to ask your advice. I had been planning to go to the island and stay with Richard Cari at Kantuta Lodge. However, having read your post I am wondering if I should be staying elsewhere in order to be a bit fairer and in the interest of sustainable tourism – such as going to stay with the islanders who don’t usually see a lot of tourists.

I felt a bit nervous not booking something in advance and am also not sure how easy it would be to organise something like this (I will only have one night and we arrive in Puno the evening before we hope to go to the island). Do you know any responsible tour agencies who give back to the islanders and could help me find somewhere to stay? Or would you recommend just turning up and hoping to find a boat / somewhere to stay on the island?

Many thanks for any help you can give.
Kind regards,
Lucy H.

Hi Lucy,

Family Mamani, Occopampa, Amantani

Thanks for your email, and for your concern about sustainable tourism on Amantani on Lake Titicaca. Here are a few suggestions.
Richard Cari and family are good friends of mine, and we do hire his launch/boat to get our clients to the island, and although we might stay one night at his lodge, the lodge has evolved into something bigger than I want my participants to experience, (semester students excluded, plus Richard will help facilitate these longer programs). So we may bypass the lodge in favor of the other families who are wanting to have guests visit them. However, depending upon your comfort zone, and interest, you would enjoy Richard’s family and small lodge in any event. But more about staying with other families:

There’s no real problem with taking one of the boats run by the community of Amantani which you can pick up at the dock. Their office is the first building on the left as you walk onto the dock. You can then disembark at Amantani (at Pueblo), and hike  to one of the villages I’ve mentioned in my article. They are indeed ready and waiting for your visit. The sense of adventure of finding a house on the fly is much better than having an un-needed reservation.  If you’re acclimatized to the altitude and in relatively good shape you’ll enjoy the hike from the boat, but is might be a bit tiring after the long boat ride. Even if you’re not, you can still head up to the smaller villages, just take it easy on the walk. It goes without saying, you would want a backpack and not a suitcase with rollers for this walk.

Amantani Island, Peru

There is a tourist map available on the island, but I’m including one in this email with the names of the three communities that I’ve visited most recently who would like more travelers to visit them. They are Incatiana, (closest to Pueblo), Sancayuni, and Occopampa.
The latter would take a while to hike, as it’s on the east side of the island. If you can get a boat to the east side, this will solve the hike problem, especially if you only have a bit of time, but make sure to steer clear of the massive tourist crowds that disembark every day at the once peaceful Ocosuyo. They tend to take over the place at a regular time late every morning during the high season.

If you can spend more than one night, I suggest visiting one village then moving on to another the next night. This would spread out your impact as well as your tourist dollar, and be a nice way to spend some time in Peru. While the distances aren’t great, nor the vertical rises huge, the main factor is the altitude. So again, just keep this in mind as you make your decision.

You asked in your email about a reputable agency where you could book arrangements. Aside from our arranging a pickup with Richard on his boat, the only agency I would remotely recommend is Allways Travel in Puno, who we’ve contracted with in the past. The owners are a father/daughter team where the daughter is now  married to a Yankee, and spends a good chunk of the year in the states but is still well connected to the business and to Puno. The organization has had a long-standing history of helping the people of Amantani by building schools and other goodwill service projects. I’ve known them for about 12 years and find them highly reputable.
Please consider Mountain Spirit Institute should you find you’d like some seasoned facilitators to help you have the experience of connecting to the locals, to the earth, and to yourself, in this wonderful and powerful part of the world.

If I can be of any further assistance please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Warm Regards,

Dexter R. Richards, Founder,
Executive Director
Mountain Spirit Institute

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